Fernando Alonso’s bombshell defection to sign a multiyear deal with Aston Martin caught the Formula 1 world by surprise.
It has now been revealed his current team, Alpine, learnt of the news at the exact same time as everyone else.
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Aston Martin released a statement confirming Alonso would be joining the team for the 2023 season, replacing the departing Sebastian Vettel.
But the bombshell news even came as a surprise to Alpine according to Formula 1 journalist Adam Cooper.
“Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer confirmed the first the team knew of the news was when Aston Martin’s press release came out. As of Sunday night and there last discussions with Alonso, the team thought he was staying,” Cooper tweeted.
Alonso, the two-time champion announced a multiyear deal, starting in 2023, with hopes he could once again climb the drivers standings.
“This Aston Martin team is clearly applying the energy and commitment to win, and it is therefore one of the most exciting teams in Formula 1 today,” he said. “I have known Lawrence [Stroll] and Lance [Stroll] for many years and it is very obvious that they have the ambition and passion to succeed in Formula 1.
“I have watched as the team has systematically attracted great people with winning pedigrees, and I have become aware of the huge commitment to new facilities and resources at Silverstone.
“No-one in Formula 1 today is demonstrating a greater vision and absolute commitment to winning, and that makes it a really exciting opportunity for me.”
Alonso’s decision to depart Alpine now opens the door for young Aussie Oscar Piastri to get behind the wheel for the F1 team.
Alpine are now set to play hard ball with the talented youngster who is managed by Mark Webber.
Piastri and Webber are reported to have agreed to a deal with McLaren with Alpine’s plan to keep Alonso on board for one more season before installing Piastri behind the wheel.
Alonso’s bombshell defection however changed all of that. The rumoured McLaren shift could spell the end for fellow Aussie Daniel Ricciardo.
Szafnauer said while he wasn’t privy to an discussions between Piastri and McLaren, he reiterated the Aussie has contractual obligations to Alpine.
“I hear the same rumours that you do in the pitlane. But what I do know is that he does have contractual obligations to us. And we do to him. And we’ve been honouring those obligations all year,” Szafnauer said to Autosport.
“And those obligations, last through ‘23, and possibly in ‘24, if some options are taken up.”